I’m currently putting together an outline of important historical events leading up to and going through the Shandong Revival. It is not near complete at the moment, but here is a rough outline of some of the events in the first quarter of the important year of 1927:
- 1927 Jesus Family forms in Muzhuang, Taian County, Shandong Province
- February, Jane and Florence Lide report to the North China Mission teachings they had heard in California from Pentecostals on the “filling of the Holy Spirit”
- February 10, Song Shangjie is “born again.” He changes his name to John, after John the Baptist, and becomes infamously known from that point forward as Dr. John Sung. The Bible becomes a new book to him.
- February 17, John Sung is institutionalized by Union Theological Seminary administration into the Bloomingdale Hospital, New York, a psychiatric hospital. He remained there 193 days and claims to have read through the Bible 40 times during that time, while being observed and “treated.” He is diagnosed with “psychosis with psychopathetic personality” (Ka-Tong Lim, 144), but released by intervention of the Chinese consulate.
- March 21-27, The Nanking Incident, sometimes called the Rape of Nanking, and not to be confused with the Nanking Massacre of 1937 also called the Rape of Nanking. During the 1927 Incident communist forces in the Nationalist Army attacked foreigners in Nanjing (Nanking), leading embassies of Western nations to urge all westerners to flee to the coast or leave the country. Missionary forces after this incident drop from over 8000 to just over 3000. Thousands of missionaries would never return to China.
- March, following the Nanking Incident, almost all foreign missionaries flee to the ports of Qingdao in the South or Yantai in the North. One notable exception were Mr. and Mrs. Leslie Anglin who founded the Home of Onesiphorus, an orphanage and home for the poor in Taian. For the NCM, twenty-seven missionaries fled to Yantai and lived crammed together into two missionary residences. During their refuge, Jane Lide shared with the missionaries on the subject, “Christ, our Life,” a message so important that accounts by C. L. Culpepper, Mary K. Crawford, and Bertha Smith report these messages as being a significant part of their coming change of heart. Smith reports that “Needless to say, as we dug into the Word along these lines, we were convicted of sin, enriched in our lives, and stirred with a deepened desire for revival in the Chinese churches. Another significant series of events during this time was the visit and teaching of Marie Monsen, an evangelical Norwegian Lutheran missionary, who by this time had been released by her mission to hold spiritual meetings throughout China. Miss Monsen was known to the NCM as having seen unusually good evangelistic results and for seeing multiple miraculous healings. After first hearing from Miss Monsen, Culpepper and his wife Ola visited her privately. When Miss Monsen greeted them at the door, her first words to the Culpeppers was a question, “Brother Culpepper, have you been filled with the Holy Spirit?” (SR, Cul, n.d., 8). The issue of the filling of the Holy Spirit, also referred to by the missionaries as the “baptism in the Holy Spirit,” served as a major theme of the ensuing revival, as the missionaries reported it. Miss Monsen related to the Culpeppers scriptures related to healing, particularly James 5:14-16. Mr. Culpepper said that “the words ‘confess your faults’ particularly pierced [his] heart” (9). Confession of sin and an emphasis on consecrated holiness is another phenomenon that characterized the revival. When the missionaries gathered to pray for Ola, after praying for several hours, Mr. Culpepper took off his wife’s glasses, anointed her head with oil, per the James scripture, and prayed. He states that, “It was as though God had walked into the room. Everyone prayed aloud. We felt that heaven came down and glory filled our souls” (9). While she was joining this group of missionaries praying for Ola’s healing, Bertha Smith was greatly convicted of a prideful and hateful attitude she had towards another one of the missionaries. She believed that “had I refused to confess that sin, and joined in the prayer with it covered, I believe that I would have hindered the prayer of the others, and the eye could not have been healed” (1965, 16). She approached Miss Anna Hartwell and confessed her sin towards her and asked for forgiveness in front of the other missionaries, then she joined the prayer. In the other room, the two cooks for the missionaries experienced similar reconciliation, which resulted in their conversion to Christianity. The spirit of prayer, combined with the extraordinary events of confession, reconciliation, and salvation distracted the missionaries from the healing of Ola Culpepper’s optic neuritis. Just weeks earlier, she had been told by specialists in Peking that her pain would continue and that her vision would never improve; after the prayer for healing, she never experienced pain in her eyes again and could see well with the aid of glasses the rest of her life. As the missionaries reflected on their experience, these events marked the beginning of the great revival to come. Thus, Miss Monsen became a favored friend of the North China Mission and would visit them again.